Rural Councils Victoria is today (17 October 2023) launching the RCV Rural Housing Action Plan.
The five-point Plan calls for the federal and state governments to help tackle the rural housing crisis by making the construction of new homes in rural Victoria easier and more efficient.
Examples from three councils that have tackled the rural housing crisis are also provided.
Chair Cr Mary-Ann Brown said: “Rural isn’t the same as regional and the vast majority of the 152,000 homes recently announced for regional and rural Victoria will go to regional cities.”
“What rural Victoria needs is a targeted approach with dedicated supports to enable development in rural communities.”
Rural Councils Victoria has commissioned research – The Rural Victoria Housing Blueprint authored by SGS Economics & Planning – which found that rural Victoria needs 87,400 new homes by 2036.
Failure to provide the extra homes could mean annual Gross Regional Product losses across rural Victoria of between $200 million and $1 billion, the report found.
RCV also surveyed members to better understand the blockers in rural housing markets.
The Rural Housing Survey found that the availability and preparation of land, ability to find qualified people (trades and planners), and state policy and regulation were the biggest blockers to housing in rural Victoria.
Rural Councils Victoria Chair Cr Mary-Ann Brown said: “Councils across rural Victoria are tackling the housing crisis themselves, providing practical solutions and new ways of getting homes built.
“But they can’t do it all by themselves. Government support is needed.
“It’s not all about governments providing money, though financial support is part of the solution.”
“We need governments to help councils by making it easier for development to occur in rural communities.
“Through strategic financial support for the Rural Housing Action Plan, rural housing markets can be revitalised, economic stability promoted, and overall quality of life in rural communities enhanced.
The Action Plan calls for:
Cr Brown said: “Rural Councils Victoria is also calling for rural communities to get their fair share of the proposed Short Stay Levy on accommodation provided through Airbnb, Stayz and other online short-stay accommodation providers.
“RCV is also calling for a 12-month review of the levy to assess its operation and ensure it is working in a fair and equitable manner.”
Council as developer: 100 homes provided
Who: Maurice Trainor, resident of Correa Park, which was developed by Pyrenees Shire Council
Maurice Trainor was the first resident to move into the Correa Park Residential Development about 10 years ago.
Maurice says he has been active in several local groups in his 40 years in the area and the development has been widely welcomed as “fantastic”, bringing new families and energy to the town, including children to pre-school and primary school, business for the local shops and cafes and a general “buzz”.
Maurice says he has built on one of the bigger lots: “I have the best of both worlds. Out the front door are the houses in the estate and out the back is bushland.”
“It (Correa Park) was a fantastic idea from whoever came up with it 15-20 years ago. I can see why families want to move here, smaller lots go for triple the price in Ballarat (which is about 30 minutes from Beaufort).
About Correa Park: Full details in this link to the Pyrenees Shire website
Council builds worker housing
David says: “It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, it is imperative for staff to be able to find a place to live in rural and regional Victoria.
“It is hard to attract employees to rural and regional areas but when you tell them there is nowhere to live you might as well give up.
He said the 11 studio-style cabins built by Moyne Shire at the Mortlake and Koroit Caravan Parks for key workers has proved a godsend.
“If there were more of them we would use them more. It gives new employees or agency staff a new, clean and comfortable place to stay while they settle into new jobs and provides them with time to find a place to stay.
“I would like the government and shires across rural and regional Victoria to know that one of the biggest blockers to filling jobs is the lack of accommodation. It is holding businesses back across all sectors.”
Council provides housing broker
Who: Clare Richards, Housing Broker, Mount Alexander Shire
Clare Richards is one of rural Victoria’s first housing brokers. Based at Mount Alexander Shire, Clare works to implement short-, medium- and long-term best-practice solutions to the housing crisis in the shire.
The role is an example of an effective solutions-based approach that, with the government support, RCV believes could be rolled out across rural Victoria.
In her busy role, Clare pursues Big Housing Build and other grant funding or financing opportunities; works closely with local social and health sector organisations and groups; develops and brokers relationships between key stakeholders including governments, the community housing sector, private and for-purpose developers, investors and financiers.
Her role also includes assessing options for use of Council and State land for affordable housing; and developing Council housing policy and governance vehicles (such as MOUs, partnerships, consortiums, and Trusts) to help deliver outcomes in the Shire.